A drive-thru coronavirus testing center is set to open in Paris soon.
Last week, the City of Paris ordered 5,000 COVID-19 antibody testing kits which they expect to arrive this week.
Paris Mayor Steve Clifford said they plan to set up a drive-thru testing facility at Justiss Elementary School at the cost of $25 per test to the public.
“I have given careful thought as to how this facility will be run. I have also consulted several medical professionals regarding this. We had originally considered ordering 20,000 kits at $25 per kit at city expense and providing these tests at no cost at all to anyone who wanted to be tested. Although the council approved for this, I was still somewhat uncomfortable with the situation.”
Clifford explained that some test kits have been shown to be unreliable, and many have been taken off the market for this reason.
“The defective kits are mainly from China, but there is always a possibility that any test kit could be deemed inaccurate. If we invested $500,000 on a test kit from a single company, and it turned out to be unreliable, we would have lost a large amount of money. We have done due diligence on the Californian company from which we ordered these, and we believe it to be a solid, reputable company. But still, I requested that we order fewer tests initially in case there was to be a problem with test reliability. For that reason, I was pleased that we were able to order only 5000 tests instead of 20,000. Only a fourth of the money was at risk, and I felt much more comfortable because of this. If we need more, we will likely be able to order them as these kits are becoming ever more available as time passes.”
The other decision officials had to make was whether or not to charge the public for the tests. Currently, several Paris healthcare facilities offer to test at costs from $175 to $185 and are only administered if the person has specific symptoms or falls into a specific category such as a first responder or healthcare profession.
“Fortunately, insurance often covers these tests. If your insurance covers this testing, then, by all means, get your test done at one of these facilities. But our intent in Paris was for us to offer testing at a small charge to anyone who desires it as a service to our community.”
Clifford said, after consulting with several medical experts, the tests will be offered for a minimal charge of $25 which doesn’t quite cover the cities costs, however, it will be much less expensive than at any other facility.
Additionally, the tests will available to anyone including those who live outside Paris city limits or even outside Lamar County.
“This is because we will be staffing the drive-thru facility with volunteers. Experts tell me that a small charge will discourage people from coming in to be tested who have no good reason for the test. If it is free, everyone will come, and we may rapidly exhaust our testing supplies. If there is a minimal charge, this will likely discourage many of those who have no valid reason to be tested from coming in. It is fine if these people decide to come in for testing anyway, but we want to be certain that our tests are used for maximum public benefit.”
Once the city is ready to begin testing, citizens will be able to register online by filling out a questionnaire and will submit payment online for $25.
After registering, you’ll be given a time window to go to the drive-thru testing facility for testing. When you enter the testing facility, you will show your ID through the window to a person who will confirm that you have paid and are eligible for testing. You will then drive to a station where you will roll down your window and extend your hand to the healthcare professional. This person will perform a small finger stick and collect a drop of your blood. This will be tested, and you will receive a phone call probably within an hour telling you the results and what they mean.
“I wish to thank Dr. Hashmi for organizing the drive-thru facility. I also want to thank Russell Thrasher for setting up the web page that allows online registration. When the procedure has been finalized, I will post information on this page explaining the exact method to sign up for testing including the web address,” said Clifford.
“Not only will this information be useful to those who are tested, but it will also be useful to the experts in the Paris area as we learn just how prevalent the coronavirus is in our community. This knowledge will help us to determine optimal public policy in order to mitigate the effects of the virus on our community.”
PHOTO: An Austin employee takes down information at a drive-thru coronavirus clinic at the CommUNITYCare at the Hancock Center. GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT